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Crossbreeding

25 January 2021
Par Kenza

In the dictionary (Larousse) crossbreeding is defined as the fertile union between men and women of different ethnic origin. When asking Google Images, it's Barack Obama rubbing shoulders with Meghan Markle, not far from Tony Parker and Yannick Noah...

 

 

In a rather narrow definition of crossbreeding, mixed-race women would be recognisable by two major physical attributes: their curly hair and their "café au lait" skin colour, with rather little coffee and a lot of milk. I have both, but it took me a long time to consider myself as such, and it was while travelling that I began to understand the issue behind these representations.

 

 

In the United States, I pass as a Puerto Rican or a Dominican, in Spain as a Cuban or a Brazilian, in France as a West Indian, "a girl from the islands" - and more than once I had to swear on my mother's head to explain that I really don't speak Creole. Each time I have been "relocated" by a person who projects a very distant imagination on me, it is because it is still too inconceivable that in the Mediterranean, too, one can be of mixed race.

 

 

But why is that? Because our standards of beauty have, for a long time, oh so subtly imposed on us to erase certain physical attributes in order to resemble Europeans, "real" Arabs. Because some physical attributes are put forward and others not, and these representations lock them up.

 

 

In Antiquity, the Egyptians after the Greeks, the Romans made the Mediterranean Sea their "Mare Nostrum" and made their empire prosper on its shores. Other peoples, the Etruscans to the north, but also the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and the Berbers to the south, lived on the shores of what was then called the "Mediterranean Lake". In the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean catalysed 3 great civilisations, each one associated with a religion: the Muslim world and its different dynasties that reigned on the northern and southern shores (Spain), the Byzantine Empire, Orthodox Christian, with Constantinople (now Istanbul) as its capital, and the Christian West, Catholic. Beyond these great divisions, there are also many religious minorities, including Jews in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East.

 

 

It is from this period that the Mediterranean becomes a real space for exchange, which becomes constitutive of its identity and ours, as if for a long time the Mediterranean embodied the crossbreeding without assuming it. Centuries later, it is perhaps time to move on to formulate a definition of crossbreeding that does not exotise us and resembles us, somewhere between Europe, Africa and Asia.

References : 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_892s3HXuE

https://dicomed.mmsh.univ-aix.fr/Pages/notices/dicomed-121.aspx 

https://www.cairn.info/revue-pensee-plurielle-2009-2-page-27.htm 

https://www.un.org/fr/chronicle/article/la-mer-mediterraneeberceau-de-nombreuses-civilisations

https://www.cairn.info/revue-tiers-monde-2012-1-page-179.html 

https://www.assistancescolaire.com/eleve/2nde/histoire/reviser-le-cours/2_his_14 

https://histoiregeoenvideos.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/h1-2-trace-ecrite.pdf 

Cultural interbreeding, cultural production (music, literature, etc.) resulting from the mutual influence of civilisations in contact.

 

Our Sea for the Romans, the White Sea (Akdeniz) for the Turks, the Great Sea for the Jews, the Middle Sea (Mittlemeer) for the Germans and even the Great Green by the ancient Egyptians.